The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)

Lt. Colonel Glenn Manning (Glenn Langan) has been given orders to keep his men safe from a nuclear blast, but when a civilian glider crashes close to the area, he races out to save the day. He ends up getting blown up real good — one would argue exactly like Dr. Bruce Banner five years later — and has third-degree burns all over his body. Then, the bad news. The plutonium blast has caused his old cells to stop dying while the new ones multiply at an accelerated rate. That means that he’s growing ten feet a day and there’s no sign of it stopping.

Before long, his heart and brain can no longer support him and he’s running wild, decimating the olf Vegas strip and throwing giant syringes at scientists before taking a tumble off the Hoover Dam directly into next year’s War of the Colossal Beast.

Jim Nicholson of American International Pictures made this movie because The Incredible Shrinking Man was a success and he had the rights to Homer Eon Flint’s The Nth Man, which is about a man ten miles tall. Charles B. Griffith was hired for the script ad Roger Corman was brought on board to direct but soon dropped out. You know, if you’re going to make a movie with way too big or way too small people, get the man whose very name says BIG: Bert I. Gordon.

The Unearthly (1957)

Dr. Charles Conway (John Carradine) is experimenting with artificial glands to make people live longer, working with Lobo (Tor Johnson) and his assistant Dr. Sharon Gilchrist (Marilyn Buferd, a former Miss California). Those that get these glands think they’re getting one surgery and get shuffled off for something else.

One of those patients is Grace Thomas (Allsion Hayes, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman; she died as a result of nutritional supplements, specifically a calcium supplement that had abnormal levels of lead), who is suffering from depression which means that she’s due for some surgery that will help John Carradine live eternally.

Originally called The House of Monsters, this was filmed over approximately five days and is the third movie in which Johnson played Lobo (Bride of the Monster and Night of the Ghoul would be the others).

Director Boris Petroff, using the name Brooke Peters, also directed Anatomy of a Psycho. I’ve heard that the writer of this movie, Jane Mann, was Petroff’s wife. I’ve also heard that its a pen name for Ed Wood.

Junesploitation 2021: From Hell It Came (1957)

June 5: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is revenge.

Sure, Paul Blaisdell created the effects for The She-Creature, Invasion of the Saucer Men, Not of This Earth and It! The Terror from Beyond Space, but this is the only movie in which he made a tree person.

Yes, this film is about the prince of a South Seas island wrongly executed by a witch doctor who hated the fact that the prince became friends with Americans. Well, those foreigners pay him back by irradiating the island and reanimating the royal victim, who has been buried inside a tree. Now he is known as Tabonga, an angry tree stump that demands bloody retribution.

This movie is one of the many reasons why quicksand concerned me as a child, as the tree man throws his unfaithful widow into the sinking muck and then tosses the witch doctor down a hill. He can only be stopped by white men and their guns, which hasn’t really changed for so many since this was made sixty some years ago.

Written by Richard Bernstein (Terrified!) and Jack Milner, this was directed by Jack’s brother Dan, who worked as an editor on the Bozo the Clown TV show (he also made The Fighting Coward and The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues).

Look, it’s not great, but the tree man reveal is better than most entire movies. It has that going for it at least.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Reform School Girl (1957)

Released on a double feature with Shake, Rattle and RockReform School Girl is the story of Donna Price (Gloria Castillo, whose song Joshua Kadison wrote the song “Mother’s Arms” about her), a girl in the wrong place who went on the wrong date with the wrong man at the wrong time. He leaves the scene of a hit and run, telling her that he’ll kill her if she tells the cops he was there. This leads her to, you know it, reform school.

Meanwhile, that wrong man remains convinced that Donna is going to tell the police what really happened, so he makes it seem like she’s a police informant. This leads to a girl on girl battle over a pair of scissors with even badder girl Roxy (Yvette Vickers, whose Playboy Playmate of the Month centerfold for July of 1959 was shot by Russ Meyer).

Reform School Girls is an American-International Pictures film directed by veteran Edward Bernds, who started his career with Three Stooges shorts (he struggled with the first few, as Curly’s health was in bad shape and it was difficult to work around) and films in the BlondieGasoline Alley and Bowery Boys series. He’d go on to direct Queen of Outer SpaceReturn of the Fly and 59 episodes of the new Stooges TV show and two of their full-length movies, The Three Stooges Meet Hercules and The Three Stooges In Orbit.

Keep an eye out for Luana Anders (Easy Rider), Diana Darrin (The Incredible Shrinking Man), Edd Byrnes (Vince Fontaine!) and Sally Kellerman in her first acting role.

You can watch this on Tubi.

SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: The Mysterians (1957)

Known as Chikyū Bōeigun (Earth Defense Force) in Japan, The Mysterians is important to our kaiju studies as it contains the first appearance of Moguera, who would one day become M.O.G.U.E.R.A. (Mobile Operation Godzilla Universal Expert Robot Aero-type), who took over the role intended for Mechagodzilla in Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla. While the robot never was in a Godzilla film in the Showa timelime, he would become the big green guy’s only ally in the Heisei films*.

But here, he starts the movie blowing up a village and then gets destroyed by the military before the Mysterians show up, demanding their own land and the right to marry Earth women.

That’s because 10,000 years ago the planet Mysteroid was destroyed by a nuclear war. Once it was the fifth planet from our sun and now it’s nothing, with the Mysterians losing eighty percent of their people and needing to get at least five Earth women to make their race strong again.

Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka recruited Jojiro Okami, an aeronautical engineer and military test pilot who later became a science fiction writer to write the script for director Ishirō Honda.

The story of this movie would continue in 1959’s Battle In Space and 1977’s The War In Space. As for its influence, the band ? and the Mysterians would get their name from this film.

*The original Moguera suit was destroyed by an accidental fire during the filming of The Prophecies of Nostradamus.

Untamed Youth (1957)

If I were to go back in time and make a bad kids movie, I would put all of my budget into getting Mamie Van Doren, who is to this genre what Sean Connery is to the Eurospy film.

Mamie and Lori Nelson (Hot Rod Girl) play Penny and Jane Lowe, two sisters who have been arrested for hitchhiking and skinny dipping. This sends them to a Texas work farm owned by Russ Tropp (John Russell, TV’s Lawman). He’s got a great scam going, because he’s dating a judge (Lurene Tuttle, the “First Lady of Radio”) who he’s using to get any teen who commits a minor crime sent to his business as cheap labor.

Eddie Cochran plays Bong, another prison worker, and Mamie does four songs. I love every single one of them and really wish that I hadn’t seen nearly every one of her movies, because then I could see them all over again and get the charge I had when I saw them for the first time.

Howard W. Koch, who directed this, also made Frankenstein 1970 and went on to produce the Airplane! movies.

You can see the Mystery Science Theater version of this on Tubi.

The Invisible Man vs. the Human Fly (1957)

Seven years after The Invisible Man Appears, Daiei released this sequel which begins with a series of murders that seem to be the work of an invisible man. However, there seems to be the sound of buzzing with each kill.

It’s the work of a war criminal who created the formula and as a result, was left stranded on the island where his lab was. Now, he’s killing each of his associates in their new lives with the help of his brutal assistant, who is now addicted to the formula that allows him to become a human fly.

Now that scientists have made the invisible formula safe for humans, can a brave soul — or two — use it to protect the world from the Human Fly, who is now leaving bombs on trains and killing hundreds of people at a time?

At one point, this was going to be released in the U.S. as The Murdering Mite. It was never released, however.

How awesome is it that this movie basically has two Vincent Price characters, the Invisible Man and the Fly, fighting against one another? Seriously, the little fly man is super sinister and awesome in every scene, making this movie for me.

You can get this with The Invisible Man Appears on a new double blu ray from Arrow Video.

Beginning of the End (1957)

American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres, or Am-Par, decided to create their own film studio to make low-budget movies that they could place into their theaters, signing a deal with Republic Pictures to make them. And after the success of Them!, who else but Burt I. Gordon to make more giant bug movies?

Gordon did the effects by himself in his garage, bringing the magic effect he used for King Dinosaur: grab some animals and shoot them in front of a still photo. So he grabbed 200 non-hopping, non-flying live grasshoppers in Waco, Texas and brought them to California. At that point, the agriculture department got involved and somehow, only 12 grasshoppers live after they all turned into cannibals. One would assume the dozen that are in this movie are the toughest ones of all time.

That said, the film’s title was prophetic. For some reason, the studio stopped making films. Luckily for Gordon, he landed at American-International Picture where he kept making giant movies. The Amazing Colossal Man was next.

There’s a decent cast in this, with Peter Graves* as the scientist who uses radiation to better grow crops until some crazy locusts eat it all and — you guessed it — get big as well. Peggie Castle, Miss Cheesecake of 1949, was born for films like this and Invasion U.S.A. It also seems like character actor Morris Ankrum was a lock for nearly any science fiction film of this time, as he made Rocketship X-MFlight to MarsRed Planet MarsInvaders from MarsEarth vs. the Flying SaucersFrom the Earth to the Moon and this movie in the 50’s.

*Whose brother James Arness was in Them!

You can watch this on YouTube.

Drag Strip Girl (1957)

One of American-International Pictures first winners was this movie, released as a double feature with Rock All Night.  It has Fay Spain in the title role, in a story that would pretty much be recycled as Motorcycle Gang along with cast members John Ashley (this was his first movie) and Steve Terrell.

Ashley had never acted before but went with his girlfriend on her audition. He got a contract with AIP and she didn’t. He’s a total winner in this, the perfect jerk who doesn’t care that his love for speed keeps getting people killed.

Meanwhile, Spain’s Louise Blake character must choose between the rich Ashley — who impresses mom — and the resourceful mechanic Terrell — who dad likes. It doesn’t help when a game of chicken — which I think only happened in movies until impressionable youth watched AIP films — leads to more death.

One of the reviewers of the day claimed that this movie was, “a depressing and irresponsible film… glorifying the defiance of law and order, lax morals and the discardance of civilised behaviour.” When I read things like that, it’s hard not to contain my glee.

This is one of the many filmes Edward L. Cahn did for AIP. There’s nothing flashy, but he’s dependable and unafraid to be sensationalistic. You can also check out It! The Terror from Beyond SpaceShake, Rattle and Rock and Runaway Daughters, which is one of the best titles of all time.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Mister Rock and Roll (1957)

Charles S. Dubin was blacklisted but still ended up being a TV director of some reknown five years afterward. He’d go on to direct 44 episodes of M*A*S*H*, as well as TV movies like The Deadly Triangle and the 1979 remake of Topper.

Here, he’s putting together a jukebox musical featuring Mr. Rock and Roll himself, Alan Freed, playing himself.

Freed made his “acting” debut — as himself, natch — with Rock Around the Clock (1956) alongside Bill Haley and the Comets; he followed up with Rock Rock Rock! (1956), Don’t Knock the Rock (1956; shot-for-shot and word-for-word remade as Don’t Knock the Twist with Chubby Checker), and Go, Johnny, Go! (1959), the last which Freed produced. In addition to those films, on the small screen, Freed starred as host of the feature-length Rock ‘N’ Roll Revue (1957), which aired on ABC-TV on May 8th of that year.

Here, in Mister Rock and Roll, we learn the story of how Freed helped discover rock and roll, yet it doesn’t shy away from the roots of the form in gospel, jazz and the blues. You get to see it performed by many of the earliest stars, including Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Clyde McPhatter, The Moonglows, Little Richard, Ferlin Husky (attention all fans of Hillbillys In a Haunted House and by that, I’m talking to myself) and Chuck Berry.

Teddy Randazzo plays himself and his love story with Carole (Lois O’Brien) is the central part of the story. She’s a reporter whose boss believes that rock and roll is going to ruin society. Those kids loving this music would grow up to hate hippies and feel the very same way.

Rocky Marciano also shows up for romantic advice in between the twenty some odd songs, making this nearly a 90-minute music video. No complaints. It’s a time capsule worth your time.